An economist who takes the pulse of Missouri business from the inside finds signs of improvement although they’re not publicly visible.

Purchasing agents are the people Creighton University professor Ernie Goss relies upon because they see what’s happening in manufacturing on one side and in retail sales on the other. His latest survey shows another slight improvement in business conditions for the fourth month in a row. New orders, production, and lead times for delivery all are up. Inventories and employment remain below growth-neutral.

Goss says all of that produces some cautious optimism although he thinks the phrase “cautious optimism” might be a little strong. “The numbers say this recovery is underway. It’s a fragile recovery,” he says.

All of which, he says, means little to people who are out of work, a number he expects to grow a little bit before the unemployment rate will start showing slight declines next year.

Goss says the employment outlook will improve once people and businesses find out what Congress does with healthcare and cap and trade.

BP interviews Dr. Ernie Goss 9:06